By Bill Cross
For The Herald Bulletin
---- — PENDLETON — Mother Nature turned up the thermostat, but the host Pendleton Heights girls cross country team burned the competition Wednesday to win the Arabian Roundup over 19 other schools.
The Arabians, led by Maddi Hinton, placed five runners in the top nine to win 31-70 over Warren Central.
“It’s awesome,” a smiling Hinton said after the race. “We really wanted to pack it up in the first mile. We were just trying to keep the girls as close as possible."
The strategy worked as the seven Arabians finished in the top 18.
“When you put all seven in the top 18, you can’t beat that,” Pendleton Heights coach Melissa Hagerman said.
Hinton finished fourth overall with a time of 21:02.35, Alli McCarty finished fifth, Emma Hall was sixth, Monica Dudley was seventh, Faith Baer was ninth, Chelsea Blackwell was 11th and Alex Buck came home 18th.
Danielle Muse of Whiteland won the individual race with a time of 19:51.74.
“We come into this race excited for the competition, but we also have high expectations for ourselves,” Hinton said. “We always go into it wanting to win it."
Lapel finished10th with Sierra Ratzlaff (31st) leading the way. Shenandoah, led by Kate Graddy, was 13th, Frankton finished 16th, Elwood 17th and Alexandria 20th. The top Frankton finisher was Sherrie Riser (46th), Elwood was led by Kim Cole (42nd) and Alexandria’s top finisher was Courtney Skinner (59th).
The boys’ competition followed, and Pendleton Heights came close to sweeping the night. Led by Tony Flood, Parker Jones and Tyler Flood, the Arabians ran their way to second place in the 23-team field, 15 points behind winner Roncalli (74-89).
The top three Arabians finished eighth, 10th and 11th but could not overcome Roncalli’s trio of Austin O’Gara (second), Nathan Schoettle (seventh) and Joey Ray (16th).
“Our fourth and fifth (place) runners have to step up for us to be competitive,” Pendleton Heights coach Alan Holden said. “When they move up, they are going to be tough to beat."
Holden was upbeat for the future of his team, however, as youth dominates the Arabians roster.
“They’re all freshmen and sophomores, you can’t ask for much more with the youth we have,” Holden said. “I’m pleased with what we did."
Seth Eagleson of New Palestine won the individual competition with a time of 16:53.97.
Frankton finished ninth overall, followed by Lapel (10th), Shenandoah (13th), Anderson Preparatory Academy (14th), Alexandria (15th), Anderson (19th) and Elwood (23rd).
Dylan Diane (17th) was the top Frankton finisher, Logan Bradley (20th) led Lapel, Kyle Demick (48th) was the top Shenandoah finisher, Tyler Barnes (APA) finished 18th, Alexandria’s Leyton Peavler was 56th, Ben Gray (76th) paced Anderson and Grayden Creamer (94th) led Elwood’s contingent.
The afternoon race was held in 90-degree heat and took its toll on a few runners. Other than the normal sore muscles, one of the female competitors from Mt. Vernon suffered an asthma attack after finishing the race, and one of the male runners was taken by ambulance to the hospital after collapsing on the course. The runner was not identified, and there was no update on his condition.